By Steve Quillian
The First Amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So I have a question. Are our first amendment rights being violated? Violated might not be the best word to describe what is happening right before our eyes. Violated? Its hard to point the finger at any one thing that is happening and say, “That, my friend, is a classic violation.” That’s because the word violate seeks to describe, imply a distinct crossing of a line at a place in history. It’s a dot on the timeline where a thing is broken, something is infringed upon or transgressed against. I parked the wrong way on a street and got a ticket. That’s a clear violation. I crossed a line and a punishment was meted.
Regarding first amendment rights, let us try a different word. Let’s try squeezed. To squeeze is to apply pressure, to put under stress, to test the resolve of a given object. I squeeze an orange, juice comes out. I glue two boards together and put them in the clamps. Excess glue squeezes out. Squeezing is useful in many applications. With a squeeze we demonstrate affection, or choke someone out in a Jiu Jitsu match. Interrogators were paired with political prisoners in Soviet Russia and were trained to squeeze a confession out of them, whether real or fabricated. Squeezing properly reveals what’s inside. So let’s squeeze and see if there’s any pushback. Let’s squeeze and see what comes out. We know what the first amendment says. Let’s investigate and see if people are living as though they actually believe they have freedom to worship, speak, assemble and petition. Who cares what’s written on that piece of paper, Let’s see what the people do!
That’s the test. That’s the squeeze. Does freedom of speech really hold up? Let it be tested. See what the people do. Don’t listen to what people say. They’ll tell you what they think they ought to say, what they think you want to hear. Rather watch them. Make them uncomfortable. Squeeze them. See if they capitulate. See if they cave. Study their response. I squeeze this way, they do that. I squeeze that way, they do this. People will demonstrate what they actually believe. That’s what you go with. That’s what you write down in your legal pad.
“Interesting,” says the Squeezer. (Imagine a thought bubble appearing) I happen to like squeezing. What happens if I squeeze really hard this way, and then give them a treat for making it through? Ah yes! Obedience is rewarded! That’s the way! Let us squeeze and treat. Soon we will have obedient pets! First Amendment rights? HA! That’s just a piece of paper. Nobody believes that! Just look what happens when I squeeze!
So how are First Amendment rights being violated? It’s hard to say they are. Can the rights be said to be violated if nobody speaks up? Silence is complicity. Silence means you agree to, accept what’s being done. People are being treated as though the First Amendment doesn’t exist, and if in the minds of the people being squeezed, it doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t exist! The real violation is in the people accepting the pressured being applied. The real violation is the refusal to speak up.
Freedom of speech has nothing to do with the paper it is written on. It is an idea that must be realized within, internalized. That it’s actually written down somewhere merely demonstrates, indicates that the idea has been captured, written down and relied upon in the past, that it’s an important idea. But lots of ideas are written down. Written down doesn’t mean the ideas are being implemented. The squeezing illustrates that. The writing, the words that at one time been captured, internalized and acted upon are being tested to see if indeed the same idea is still intact in the people.
So actually it’s not the words of the First Amendment that are being squeezed, it’s not even the idea. It’s the people. The people are being squeezed to see what bleeds out, to see if that idea is lodged in there or not. Lodged in there means one thing. Not lodged in there means something else.
Will the people object to being dominated? Squeeze and see! Will they object when their resources are made scarce? Squeeze and see! Will they object when we make them walk this way? When we limit how they can assemble? When we limit who they can talk to and about what they can talk about? What they can protest and what they can’t? Squeeze and see. We’ll see what’s really true about the people. Perhaps they are ripe for the picking. They’re looking pretty soft. Squeeze a little bit and give them a treat. You’ll see. Those first amendment rights are just an outdated proverb to them, a plaque on the wall. A nice saying they give lip service to. They aren’t speaking up. Rights? Those are what people actually do. These people don’t have any rights. If they did, they’d speak up. Look at their response to the pressure. We are Pharoahs in the land of Egypt building pyramids, building a new society. Let me demonstrate how I can make them sit. Watch them beg. Isn’t that cute? We can do whatever we want.
Blow a trumpet in Zion and sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, so there is a great and might people; there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations. A fire consumes before them and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, but a desolate wilderness behind them, and nothing at all escapes them. Joel 2:1-3